Heroes for Hire #8
Iron Fist - martial arts master raised in the mystic city of K'un Lun! Luke Cage - street-tough private eye with super-strength and steel-hard skin! Black Knight - man of science armed with weapons of sorcery! White Tiger - acrobatic feline fighter created by the High Evolutionary! Ant-Man -scientific genius with the ability to shrink to miniscule sizes! Together, they make the Heroes for Hire - an organization devoted to righting wrongs for a price!
Written by: Wes A.
It's popular opinion that the state of Maine has some of the most beautiful country in the United States. The sight of the land takes everyone who dwells or visits there aback. And it's for that reason that so many people, especially tourists, visit there. Small towns that border the Atlantic Ocean are always making tourists feel at home. All those people needing places to stay, eat, and visit. For the men and women who cater to these needs, the job seemingly never ends. It was after the dinner rush, and the small café began to quiet down. Dinner rush was always a hectic time for the staff, all the people needing their food almost within minutes. The waitresses’ shift was almost over. All she had to do was drop off a check and then she could leave. The young waitress went over to one of the tables, the man that had been eating there had been sipping from his coffee for the past hour, either in deep thought or just trying to pass the time without being a bother to anyone.
"Is there anything else I can get you?" the waitress asked cheerily.
The man looked up at her as if she had just popped into existence from thin air. "No...no, the check will be fine. Thank you." he said quietly.
The waitress gave the man an odd look and gave him his check. As she walked away, the man couldn't help but notice the look she gave him. He didn't blame her. The past few weeks had put a strain on him, and he knew that his appearance showed it. He scratched his chin, feeling the whiskers he was starting to develop. With a sigh, he walked over to the cash register and paid his bill. After leaving the café, he took a walk along the sidewalk, overlooking the harbor. It was turning from a beautiful day into a rainy night. He could feel a few sprinkles beginning to beat down on him. He hugged his coat a bit tighter to himself. For a moment, he leaned against the railing of the sidewalk, looking out at the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.
"Oh Emile, what have you gotten yourself into?" he asked aloud.
In an underground lab, the man known as Morden contemplated his future. It had been a while since the Bransteg fiasco, and the Overseer had given him a new duty to fulfill. Morden knew that after his last assignment, it would be wise to be sure this one didn't end in failure. Morden stood in the middle of the lab, facing a large cylinder tank filled with liquid. Inside, a humanoid form floated. When any bit of light hit part of the figure, it glistened. Morden didn't know how long he had been staring at the form. The truth is, he didn't even know why he was staring at the form. Possibly because he knew that that being represented his future with the Overseer and the Five.
"What's wrong Morden, can't your new friend come out to play?" came a voice from the lab entrance behind Morden. Modren closed his eyes accompanied by a sigh of frustration. He knew all too well who was speaking.
"What do you want, Sesimen?" asked Morden.
Archibald Sesimen just smirked. He knew that Morden wasn't very fond of him. In fact, Morden considered Sesimen a sor.
of enemy to him. Both knew that any violent act toward the other would result in a direct meeting with the Overseer. As a result, neither took any action towards the other. But that didn't Sesimen from enraging Morden to no end whenever he got the chance.
"Oh come on, can't a guy just stop in and say hello from time to time?" Sesimen walked up next to Morden. He followed Morden's gaze to the tank.
"You know, I don't see why we have to bring this guy in. From what little we have learned, he could turn on us at any moment. I say-.
"I don't care what you say, Sesimen." said Morden coldly, " As far as I'm concerned, what you think or feel doesn't matter. The Overseer wanted this...creature... to join us, so it will. And as for being a threat to our operation, we're taking special precautions to curtail that from happening. Now if you'll excuse me, Sesimen, I have work to do..
With that, Morden walked out of the lab. Sesimen just stood for a moment, completely dumbstruck.
"Suck-up." he said under his breath.
He turned to the tank once more. With a wave of his hand, he dismissed its presence and left the room. Inside the tank, the form began to open its eyes. It knew that soon it would awaken to serve it's new master.
Deep under the Pacific Ocean, a large complex lay hidden under tons of seabed. Inside the complex, a man sat in a dark room. The room had only one chair, which received light from an illuminated orb in the ceiling. For months, the man has waited for his time to strike. The Heroes for Hire foiled his last attempt, and he would be sure that his next time wouldn't end in failure. He is currently known as the Master of the World. Once, he went by the name Eshu, but that was a very long, long, long time ago. He lived in a time when the world was covered in ice and man lived in caves. He went hunting for his tribe and found a deserted alien spacecraft. The craft abducted him and prepared his to insert alien DNA into his body, making him a hybrid for the craft's nearly extinct race to survive. Unfortunately, the craft was malfunctioning and just left him cut and scarred. For millennia he lived inside the craft, watching the world outside change. He was freed eventually, and began his plans to save the world, by any means necessary. One of the Master's servants entered the room. He waited for acknowledgement before he began to speak.
"You have information?" asked the Master. .
"Yes sir. It appears as though Earth has been visited by aliens..
The Master stared at the man for a moment.
"Earth has been visited by aliens almost since its existence. What makes this time so special?" asked the Master calmly.
To the Master's right, a holographic screen appeared from thin air. The screen showed a group of superheroes fighting a large red, white, and blue robot.
"Those are the X-Men," stated the Master.
"Yes sir. This is footage from a newscast. The event took place during New Year's Eve..
The Master looked more closely at the screen. His interest appeared to be growing.
"The man with the white hair is Magneto. He appears to be fighting with the large robot, but the machine is resisting his power and winning. Interesting. Also, this robot is unlike anything I've seen before. A race of sentient mechanical beings, perhaps related to the Kree's Sentry guards?.
"We've also received other reports sir. Recently, three large robotic insects have been sighted hear Stockholm*(*see Fantastic Four #8 for details). Those insects appear to share similar designs to the robot the X-Men were fighting..
The Master sat in thought for a moment. This was getting more interesting by the moment.
"Have we obtained any information on where these beings came from?" he asked.
"Our sources have done some digging and have found out that the military base near Mt. St. Hillary plays a role..
"St. Hillary?" mused the Master thoughtfully, "That place sounds familiar to me. Hmmm. Have our agents infiltrate the base and find out as much as possible. Keep me updated on any finds..
"Yes sir." said the servant as he bowed.
He then left the room, leaving the Master alone to ponder what shape the future will take.
Emile shut the door to his motel room. He started to remove his jacket and set it on a nearby hangar.
Emile literally jumped. He spun around to find a woman standing in the middle of the room. She appeared to be in her late 20's with long blonde hair and pretty blue eyes. She wore an all black and appeared to be unarmed, but that did little so settle Emile down.
"Who are you? How did you get in here?" exclaimed Emile.
The woman raised her hands in a non-threatening way. "Calm down doctor, I'm not here to hurt..
"Then what are you here for?.
"To ask for your help..
"Oh really? Well I've been helping people more than enough lately. Now get out of my room or I'll call the police!.
The two just stared at each other for a moment. Emile was growing very agitated and feared that she was with Bransteg. He reached to the table behind him and grabbed the lamp that was on it.
"You heard me, get out!.
"I know about Morden." she blurted out.
"Oh I'm sure you do!" sneered Emile, "You go tell him that I'll never work for you people as long as I live. I looked through the files I stole before I left Bransteg, I know you're up to something..
"You don't understand we work against Morden's masters, not with them." She calmly told him.
"And why should I believe you?.
The woman looked like she was about to say something, but couldn't find the words. It was like she knew what to do but didn't want to. With a sigh she turned toward the room behind her that held the kitchen.
"He's not going to believe me unless you show yourself." she called.
Emile looked at her suspiciously. "Who are you talking to? Who's in there?.
"I am." came a raspy voice.
With that, he came out of the kitchen. Emile's mouth dropped. The lamp that he held in his hand fell to the floor. For several moments Emile just stared at him. He had seen some amazing things over the past few months, but this took the cake. Although he tried to talk, it came out as little more than stutters.
"Y-you're....you look like-.
"Yes, I do." he said simply.
"But-but....how? Why? W-who?" stammered Emile.
"Those questions can be answered doctor, but you must come with us," said the woman, "Like I said, we need your help..
"Help with what?.
"There's a war coming doctor," said the being with the raspy voice, "A war that we must be ready for. You've worked with the enemy; you have knowledge of their weapons. We need that knowledge if we're to win. Will you help us doctor?.
Emile looked up at the...being. It was so familiar, yet so different. If what they were saying was true, that they were against Morden, then Emile knew he could help them. And even if they were lying and were with Morden, at least he wouldn't have run anymore.
"All right, I'll help you..
The woman and her companion smiled. Well, as close to a smile as her companion could get. The woman walked over to him and put an arm on his shoulder.
"Thank you doctor. You've made the right choice..
"I hope so." thought Emile.
"Come Karen, let's get the doctor back home." said her companion.
"Home?" asked Emile.
Karen smiled at her reassuringly. "Trust us, you'll like it there. We've been very busy and we've got a lot of work to do."
At Oracle, Dane Whitman paced back and forth on the H4H heli-pad. Behind him stood a man in an elegant business suit with jet-black hair and a neatly trimmed goatee.
"Are you sure they'll show up to help us?" asked the man.
"I've know these people for a while Drake, they'll show up..
The man merely watched Dane continue to pace. Within a few minutes, a ship descended from the clouds above. It landed on the heli-pad and a door opened on the side. Dane walked over to the ship. Out stepped the half-man half-animal Knights of Wundagore* (*created by the High Evolutionary to serve and protect Mt. Wundagore-Wes). In their company was Sir Ram, Lord Tyger, Lord Gator, Lord Delphis, Lady Vermin who was perched on Delphis's shoulder, and two other Knights Dane didn't recognize. One appeared to be a gorilla and the other looked like a female bat.
"Dane, it is good to see you again." said Sir Ram.
Dane shook the Knight's hand. "And it's good to see you all as well. Thank you for coming..
"'Twas the least we could do for an old comrade." said Lord Tyger in his noble tone.
"I see you've brought two others with you. Are they new Knights?.
"Yes," said Sir Ram indicating to the newcomers, "This is Sir Simian, and Lady Vlad..
The two Knights bowed to Dane. Dane did likewise, showing respect.
"It is an honor to finally meet one of Knights most cherished allies," said Lady Vlad, "Our people are most grateful for the help you gave us in defeating the Man-Beast.*"(*see copies of the Heroes for Hire and Quicksilver story arc "Siege of Wundagore" for this epic battle-Wes again) Lady Vlad smiled at Dane, showing off her sharp teeth. Dane just nodded politely. Delphis spotted Drake and was watching him carefully.
"Who is your friend, Dane?.
"This is another ally of mine. His name is Drake..
Drake nodded politely at the gathered group. "A pleasure to meet you all..
"How will he help us in the coming battle?" asked Gator in his haunting rasp of a voice.
"Don't worry, you'll find out when the time comes." said Drake with a smirk.
"Speaking of which, when will this battle take place?" Sir Ram asked Dane seriously.
"From what the Lady of the Lake told me, soon. We'll leave as soon as the last of our party arrives..
"Then you'll wait no longer. Hello Dane, it's nice to see you." As one, the group turned to see the Eternal and ex-Avenger Sersi standing before them. The tension in the air rose dramatically. Dane and Sersi's relationship, or what was their relationship, was well known by the Knights.
"Hello Sersi, glad you showed up." said Dane stiffly.
"I'm sure," said Sersi with a thin smile, "So what's all this about a final battle between good and evil?.
Dane knew that it was time to clue them all in. "I've told all of you about the mystic isle of Avalon, the place where King Arthur is buried and the Lady of the Lake lives. When I resurfaced with the Heroes for Hire, my job was to find heroes to defend Avalon against a powerful evil. Several months ago, Drake and I had an encounter with a minion of that evil*(*see Heroes for Hire #14). But now the evil will attack and it's up to us to stop it. Any questions?.
The group took in a moment to absorb all of what Dane said. Some were scared, some were anxious, and some remained impassive. Finally, Drake was the one who spoke up.
"So when do we leave?"
Next: The Defense of Avalon!